(Calvin, Genesis 2. part 23)

Fathers ought to prevail. For it was not the design of God, either that 
Jacob should subject himself to men, or should approve, without 
discrimination, whatever was handed down from his ancestors,--seeing 
that he so often condemns in the Jews, a foolish imitation of their 
fathers,--but his design was to keep Jacob in the true knowledge of 
  4. "And Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes." This clause was 
added for the sake of showing greater indulgence. For though Jacob, in 
desiring that, when he died, his eyes should be closed by the hand of 
Joseph, showed that some infirmity of the flesh was involved in the 
wish; yet God is willing to comply with it, for the sake of moderating 
the grief of a fresh banishment. Moreover, we know that the custom of 
closing the eyes was of the greatest antiquity; and that this office was 
discharged by one most closely connected with the deceased either by 
blood or affection. 
  5. "And Jacob rose up." By using the words "rose up," Moses seems to 
denote that Jacob received new vigor from the vision. For although the 
former promises were not forgotten, yet the addition of the recent 
memorial came most opportunely, in order that he, bearing the land of 
Canaan in his heart, might endure his absence from it with equanimity. 
When it is said that he took with him all that he had acquired, or 
possessed in the land of Canaan, it is probable that his servants and 
handmaids came together with his cattle. But, on his departure, no 
mention is made of them: nay, a little afterwards, when Moses enumerates 
the separate heads of each tribe, he says that only seventy souls came 
with him. Should any one say that Jacob had been compelled to liberate 
his slaves, on account of the famine, or that he lost them through some 
misfortune to us unknown, the conjecture is unsatisfactory; for it is 
most incredible that he, who had been an industrious master of a family, 
and had abounded in the earthly blessings of God, should have become so 
entirely destitute, that not even one little servant remained to him. It 

is more probable that, when the children of Israel were themselves 
employed in servile works, they were then deprived of their servants in 
Egypt; or, at least, a sufficient number was not left them, to inspire 
them with confidence in any enterprise. And although, in the account of 
their deliverance, Moses is silent respecting their servants, yet it may 
be easily gathered from other passages, that they did not depart without 
  8. "These are the names of the children of Israel." He recounts the 
sons and grandsons of Jacob, till he arrives at their full number. The 
statement that there were but seventy souls, while Stephen (Acts 7: 14) 
adds five more, is made, I doubt not, by an error of the transcribers. 
For the solution of Augustine is weak, that Stephen, by a prolepsis, 
enumerates also three who afterwards were born in Egypt; for he must 
then have formed a far longer catalogue. Again, this interpretation is 
repugnant to the design of the Holy Spirit, as we shall hereafter see: 
because the subject here treated of, is not respecting the number of 
children Jacob left behind him at his death, but respecting the number 
of his family on the day when he went down into Egypt. He is said to 
have brought with him, or to have found there, seventy souls born unto 
him, in order that the comparison of this very small number, with that 
immense multitude which the Lord afterwards led forth, might the more 
fully illustrate His wonderful benediction. But that the error is to be 
imputed to the transcribers, is hence apparent, that with the Greek 
interpreters, it has crept only into one passage, while, elsewhere, they 
agree with the Hebrew reckoning. And it was easy when numerals were 
signified by marks, for one passage to be corrupted. I suspect also that 
this happened from the following cause, that those who had to deal with 
the Scripture were generally ignorant of the Hebrew language; so that, 
conceiving the passage in the Acts to be vitiated, they rashly changed 
the true number. If any one, however, chooses rather to suppose that 
Luke in this instance accommodated himself to the rude and illiterate, 
who were accustomed to the Greek version, I do not contend with them. In 
the words of Moses there is, indeed, no ambiguity, nor is there any 
reason why so small a matter, in which there is no absurdity, should 
give us any trouble; for it is not wonderful, that, in this mode of 
notation, one letter should have been put in the place of another. It is 
more to the purpose, to examine wherefore this small number of persons 
is recorded by Moses. For, the more improbable it appears, that seventy 
men, in no lengthened space of time, should have grown to such a 
multitude; so much the more clearly does the grace of God shine forth. 
And this is also the reason why he so frequently mentions this number. 
For it was, by no means, according to human apprehension, a likely 
method of propagating the Church, that Abraham should live childless 
even to old age; that, after the death of Isaac, Jacob alone should 
remain; that he, being increased with a moderate family, should be shut 
up in a corner of Egypt, and that there an incredible number of people 
should spring up from this dry fountain. When Moses declares that Shaul, 
one of the sons of Simon, was born of a Canaanitish woman, while he does 
not even mention the mothers of the other sons, his intention, I doubt 
not, is to fix a mark of dishonor on his race. For the holy Fathers were 
on their guard, not to mix in marriage with that nation, from which they 
were separated by the decree of heaven. When Moses, having put down the 
names of Leah's sons, says there were thirty-three souls, whereas he has 
only mentioned thirty-two; I understand that Jacob himself is to be 
reckoned the first in order. The statement that he had so many sons or 
daughters by Leah does not oppose this conclusion. For although, 
strictly speaking, his discourse is concerning sons, yet he commences 
with the head of the family. I reject the interpretation of the Hebrews, 
who suppose Jochebed the mother of Moses to be included, as being 
overstrained. A question suggests itself concerning the daughters, 
whether there were more than two. If Dinah alone were named, it might be 
said that express mention was made of her, because of the notorious fact 
which had happened to her. But since Moses enumerates another female in 
the progeny of Aser, I rather conjecture that these had remained 
unmarried, or single; for no mention is made of those who were wives. 
  28. "And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph." Because Goshen had 
been selected by Joseph as the abode of his father and his brethren, 
Jacob now desires, that, on his coming, he may find the place prepared 
for him: for the expression which Moses uses, implies, not that he 
requires a house to be built and furnished for him, but only that he may 
be permitted there to pitch his tent without molestation. For it was 
necessary that some unoccupied place should be assigned him; lest, by 
taking possession of the pastures or fields of the inhabitants, he might 
give them an occasion for exciting a tumult. 
In the meeting of Jacob with his son Joseph, Moses describes their 
vehement feeling of joy, to show that the holy Fathers were not 
destitute of natural affection. It must, however, be remembered that, 
although the affections spring from good principles, yet they always 
contract some evil, from the corrupt propensity of the flesh; and have 
chiefly this fault, that they always exceed their bounds: whence it 
follows, that they do not need to be eradicated, but to be kept within 
due bounds. 
  31. "I will go up and show Pharaoh." After Joseph had gone forth to 
meet his father for the purpose of doing him honour, he also provides 
what will be useful for him. On this account, he advises Jacob to 
declare that he and all his family were keepers of cattle, to the end 
that he might obtain, from the king, a dwelling-place for them, in the 
land of Goshen. Now although his moderation deserves commendation on the 
ground, that he usurps no authority to himself, but that, as one of the 
common people, he waits the pleasure of the king: he yet may be thought 
craftily to have devised a pretext, by which he might circumvent the 
king. We see what he desired. Seeing that the land of Goshen was 
fertile, and celebrated for its rich pastures; this advantage so allured 
his mind, that he wished to fix his father there: but then, keeping out 
of Pharaoh's sight the richness of the land, he puts forth another 
reason; namely, that Jacob with his sons, were men held in abomination, 
and that, therefore, he was seeking a place of seclusion, in which they 
might dwell apart from the Egyptians. It is not, however, very difficult 
to untie this knot. The fertility of the land of Goshen was so fully 
known to the king, that no room was left for fraud or calming, (though 
kings are often too profuse, and foolishly waste much, because they know 
not what they grant,) yea, Pharaoh, of his own accord, had offered them, 
unsolicited, the best and choicest place in the kingdom. Therefore this 
bounty of his was not elicited from him by stratagem; because he was 
free to form his own judgment respecting what he would give. And truly 
Joseph, in order that he might act modestly, felt it necessary to seek a 
habitation in Goshen, on this pretext. For it would have been absurd, or 
at least inconsiderate, for men who were obscure and strangers, to 
desire an abode in the best and most convenient place for themselves, as 
if they possessed a right to choose for themselves. Joseph, therefore, 
having regard to his own modesty and that of his father, adduces another 
cause, which was yet a true one. For seeing that the Egyptians held the 
occupation of shepherds in abhorrence, he explains to the king that this 
would be a suitable retreat for his brethren. Herein was no 
dissimulation, because, in no other place, was a quiet habitation 
accessible to them. Nevertheless, though it was hard for the holy 
Fathers to be thus opprobriously rejected, and, as it were, to be 
loathed by a whole nation; yet this ignominy with which they were 
branded, was most profitable to themselves. For, had they been mingled 
with the Egyptians, they might have been scattered far and wide; but 
now, seeing that they are objects of detestation, and are thought 
unworthy to be admitted to common society, they learn, in this state of 
separation from others, to cherish more fervently mutual union between 
themselves; and thus the body of the Church, which God had set apart 
from the whole world, is not dispersed. So the Lord often permits us to 
be despised or rejected by the world, that being liberated and cleansed 
from its pollution, we may cultivate holiness. Finally, he does not 
suffer us to be bound by chains to the earth, in order that we may be 
borne upward to heaven. 
Chapter XLVII. 
1 Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my 
brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are 
come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they [are] in the land of 
2 And he took some of his brethren, [even] five men, and presented them 
unto Pharaoh. 
3 And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What [is] your occupation? And 
they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants [are] shepherds, both we, [and] 
also our fathers. 
4 They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we 
come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine 
[is] sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy 
servants dwell in the land of Goshen. 
5 And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are 
come unto thee: 
6 The land of Egypt [is] before thee; in the best of the land make thy 
father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and 
if thou knowest [any] men of activity among them, then make them rulers 
over my cattle. 
7 And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: 
and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 
8 And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old [art] thou? 
9 And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage 
[are] an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the 
years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years 
of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. 
10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh. 
11 And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a 
possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of 
Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. 
12 And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his 
father's household, with bread, according to [their] families. 
13 And [there was] no bread in all the land; for the famine [was] very 
sore, so that the land of Egypt and [all] the land of Canaan fainted by 
reason of the famine. 
14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of 
Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and 
Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house. 
15 And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of 
Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for 
why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth. 
16 And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your 
cattle, if money fail. 
17 And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread 
[in exchange] for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the 
herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their 
cattle for that year. 
18 When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and 
said unto him, We will not hide [it] from my lord, how that our money is 
spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in 
the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands: 
19 Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy 
us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto 
Pharaoh: and give [us] seed, that we may live, and not die, that the 
land be not desolate. 
20 And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the 
Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over 
them: so the land became Pharaoh's. 
21 And as for the people, he removed them to cities from [one] end of 
the borders of Egypt even to the [other] end thereof. 
22 Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a 
portion [assigned them] of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which 
Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands. 
23 Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day 
and your land for Pharaoh: lo, [here is] seed for you, and ye shall sow 
the land. 
24 And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the 
fifth [part] unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of 
the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for 
food for your little ones. 
25 And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the 
sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants. 
26 And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, [that] 
Pharaoh should have the fifth [part]; except the land of the priests 
only, [which] became not Pharaoh's. 
27 And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and 
they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly. 
28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole 
age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years. 
29 And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son 
Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, 
I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; 
bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: 
30 But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, 
and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast 
31 And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed 
himself upon the bed's head. 
  1. "Then Joseph came." Joseph indirectly intimates to the king, his 
desire to obtain a habitation for his brethren in the land of Goshen. 
Yet this modesty was (as we have said) free from cunning. For Pharaoh 
both immediately recognizes his wish, and liberally grants it to him; 
declaring beforehand that the land of Goshen was most excellent. Whence 
we gather, that what he gave, he gave in the exercise of his own 
judgment, not in ignorance; and that he was not unacquainted with the 
wish of Joseph, who yet did not dare to ask for what was the best. 
Joseph may be easily excused for having commanded his father, with the 
greater part of his brethren, to remain in that region. For neither was 
it possible for them to bring their cattle along with them, nor yet to 
leave their cattle in order to come and salute the king; until some 
settled abode was assigned them, where, having pitched their tents, they 
might arrange their affairs. For it would have shown a want of respect, 
to take possession of a place, as if it had been granted to them; when 
they had not yet received the permission of the king. They, therefore, 
remain in that district, in a state of suspense, until, having 
ascertained the will of the king, they may, with greater certainty, fix 
their abode there. That Joseph "brought five from the extreme limits of 
his brethren," is commonly thus explained, that they who were of least 
stature were brought into the presence of the king: because it was to be 
feared lest he might take the stronger into his army. But since the 
Hebrew word "qatsah" signifies the two extremities, the beginning and 

the end; I think they were chosen from the first and the last, in order 
that the king, by looking at them might form his judgment concerning the 
age of the whole. 
  3. "Thy servants are shepherds." This confession was humiliating to 
the sons of Jacob, and especially to Joseph himself, whose high, and 
almost regal dignity, was thus marked with a spot of disgrace: for among 
the Egyptians (as we have said) this kind of life was disgraceful and 
infamous. Why, then, did not Joseph adopt the course, which he might 
easily have done, of describing his brethren as persons engaged in 
agriculture, or any other honest and creditable method of living? They 
were not so addicted to the feeding of cattle as to be altogether 
ignorant of agriculture, or incapable of accustoming themselves to other 
modes of gaining a livelihood: and although they would not immediately 
have found it productive, we see how ready the liberality of the king 
was to help them. Indeed it would not have been difficult for them to 
become invested with offices at court. How then does it happen that 
Joseph, knowingly and purposely, exposes his brethren to an ignominy, 
which must bring dishonor also on himself, except because he was not 
very anxious to escape from worldly contempt? To live in splendor among 
the Egyptians would have had, at first, a plausible appearance; but his 
family would have been placed in a dangerous position. Now, however, 
their mean and contemptible mode of life proves a wall of separation 
between them and the Egyptians: yea, Joseph seems purposely to labour to 
cast off, in a moment, the nobility he had acquired, that his own 
posterity might not be swallowed up in the population of Egypt, but 
might rather merge in the body of his ancestral family. If, however, 
this consideration did not enter their minds, there is no doubt that the 
Lord directed their tongues, so as to prevent the noxious admixture, and 
to keep the body of the Church pure and distinct. This passage also 
teaches us, how much better it is to possess a remote corner in the 
courts of the Lord, than to dwell in the midst of palaces, beyond the 
precincts of the Church. Therefore, let us not think it grievous to 
secure a sacred union with the sons of God, by enduring the contempt and 
reproaches of the world; even as Joseph preferred this union to all the 
luxuries of Egypt. But if any one thinks that he cannot otherwise serve 
God in purity, than by rendering himself disgusting to the world; away 
with all this folly! The design of God was this, to keep the sons of 
Jacob in a degraded position, until he should restore them to the land 
of Canaan: for the purpose, then, of preserving themselves in unity till 
the promised deliverance should take place, they did not conceal the 
fact that they were shepherds. We must beware, therefore, lest the 
desire of empty honour should elate us: whereas the Lord reveals no 
other way of salvation, than that of bringing us under discipline. 
Wherefore let us willingly be without honour, for a time, that, 
hereafter, angels may receive us to a participation of their eternal 
glory. By this example also, they who are brought up in humble 
employments, are taught that they have no need to be ashamed of their 
lot. It ought to be enough, and more than enough, for them, that the 
mode of living which they pursue is lawful, and acceptable to God. The 
remaining confession of the brethren (verse 4) was not unattended with a 
sense of shame; in which they say, that they had come to sojourn there, 
compelled by hunger; but hence arose advantage not to be despised. For 
as they came down few, and perishing with hunger, and so branded with 
infamy that scarcely any one would deign to speak with them; the glory 
of God afterwards shone so much the more illustriously out of this 
darkness, when, in the third century from that time, he wonderfully led 
them forth, a mighty nation. 
  5. "And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph." It is to be ascribed to the favour 
of God that Pharaoh was not offended when they desired that a separate 
dwelling-place might be granted to them; for we know that nothing is 
more indignantly borne by kings, than that their favors should be 
rejected. Pharaoh offers them a perpetual home, but they rather wish to 
depart from him. Should any one ascribe this to modesty, on the ground 
that it would have been proud to ask for the right of citizenship, in 
order that they might enjoy the same privilege as natives; the 
suggestion is indeed plausible. It is, however, fallacious, for in 
asking to be admitted as guests and strangers, they took timely 
precaution that Pharaoh should not hold them bound in the chains of 
servitude. The passage of Sophocles is known:-- 
  "Hos tis de pros turannon emporeuetai, 
  Keinou hoti doulos, kan eleutheros molei". 
         "Who refuge seeks within a tyrant's door, 
         When once he enters there, is free no more." 
                                          Langhorne's Plutarch. 
  It was therefore of importance to the sons of Jacob to declare, in 
limine, on what condition they wished to live in Egypt. And so much the 
more inexcusable was the cruelty exercised towards them, when, in 
violation of this compact, they were most severely oppressed, and were 
denied that opportunity of departure, for which they had stipulated. 
Isaiah indeed says that the king of Egypt had some pretext for his 
conduct, because the sons of Jacob had voluntarily placed themselves 
under his authority, (Is. 52: 4;) but he is speaking comparatively, in 
order that he may the more grievously accuse the Assyrians, who had 
invaded the posterity of Jacob, when they were quiet in their own 
country, and expelled them thence by unjust violence. Therefore the law 
of hospitality was wickedly violated when the Israelites were oppressed 
as slaves, and when the return into their own country, for which they 
had silently covenanted, was denied them; though they had professed that 
they had come thither as guests; for fidelity and humanity ought to have 
been exercised towards them, by the king, when once they were received 
under his protection. It appears, therefore, that the children of Israel 
so guarded themselves, as in the presence of God, that they had just 
ground of complaint against the Egyptians. But seeing that the pledge 
given them by the king proved of no advantage to them according to the 
flesh; let the faithful learn, from their example, to train themselves 
to patience. For it commonly happens, that he who enters the court of a 
tyrant, is under the necessity of laying down his liberty at the door. 
  6. "The land of Egypt." This is recorded not only to show that Jacob 
was courteously received, but also, that nothing was given him by Joseph 
but at the command of the king. For the greater was his power, the more 
strictly was he bound to take care, lest, being liberal with the king's 
property, he might defraud both him and his people. And I would that 
this moderation so prevailed among the nobles of the world, that they 
would conduct themselves, in their private affairs, no otherwise than if 
they were plebeians: but now, they seem to themselves to have no power, 
unless they may prove it by their license to sin. And although Joseph, 
by the king's permission, places his family amidst the best pastures; 
yet he does not avail himself of the other portion of the royal 
beneficence, to make his brethren keepers of the king's cattle; not only 
because this privilege would have excited the envy of many against them, 
but because he was unwilling to be entangled in such a snare. 
  7. "And Joseph brought in Jacob his father." Although Moses relates, 
in a continuous narrative, that Jacob was brought to the king, yet I do 
not doubt that some time had intervened; at least, till he had obtained 
a place wherein he might dwell; and where he might leave his family more 
safely, and with a more tranquil mind; and also, where he might refresh 
himself, for a little while, after the fatigue of his journey. And 
whereas he is said to have blessed Pharaoh, by this term Moses does not 
mean a common and profane salutation, but the pious and holy prayer of a 
servant of God. For the children of this world salute kings and princes 
for the sake of honour, but, by no means, raise their thoughts to God. 
Jacob acts otherwise; for he adjoins to civil reverence that pious 
affection which causes him to commend the safety of the king to God. And 
Jeremiah prescribes this rule to the Jews, that they should pray for the 
peace of Babylon as long as they were to live in exile; because in the 
peace of that land and empire their own peace would be involved. (Jer. 
29: 7.) If this duty was enjoined on miserable captives, forcibly 
deprived of their liberty, and torn from their own country; how much 
more did Jacob owe it to a king so humane and beneficent? But of 
whatever character they may be who rule over us, we are commanded to 
offer up public prayers for them. (1 Tim. 2: 1.) Therefore the same 
subjection to authority is required severally from each of us. 
  8. "How old art thou?" This familiar question proves that Jacob was 
received courteously and without ceremony. But the answer is of far 
greater moment, in which Jacob declares that the time of his pilgrimage 
was a hundred and thirty years. For the Apostle, in his epistle to the 
Hebrews, (11: 13-16,) gathers hence the memorable doctrine, that God was 
not ashamed to be called the God of the patriarchs, because they had 
confessed themselves to be strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Of one 
man only this is mentioned; but because he had been instructed by his 
forefathers, and had handed down the same instruction to his son, the 
Apostle honours them all with the same eulogy. Therefore, as they were 
not ashamed to wander during the whole course of their life, and to be 
opprobriously called foreigners and strangers wherever they came; so God 
vouchsafed to them the incomparable dignity, that they should be heirs 
of heaven. But (as it has been said before) no persons ever had a more 
peculiar and hereditary possession in the world, than the holy fathers 
had in the land of Canaan. The Lord is said to have cast his line, in 
order that he might assign to each nation its bounds: but an eternal 
possession, through a continual succession of ages, was never promised 
to any nation, as it was to the posterity of Abraham. In what spirit, 
then, ought we to dwell in a world, where no certain repose, or fixed 
abode is promised us? Moreover, this is described by Paul as the common 
condition of all pious persons under the reign of Christ, that they 
should "have no certain dwelling-place;" (1 Cor. 4: 11;) not that all 
should be alike cast out as exiles, but because the Lord calls all his 
people, as by the sound of the trumpet, to be wanderers, lest they 
should become fixed in their nests on earth. Therefore, whether any one 
remains in his own country, or is compelled continually to change his 
place, let him diligently exercise himself in the meditation, that he is 
sojourning, for a short time, upon earth, till, having completed his 
course, he shall depart to the heavenly country. 
  9. "Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been." Jacob 
may here seem to complain that he had lived but a little while, and 
that, in this short space of time, he had endured many and grievous 
afflictions. Why does he not rather recount the great and manifold 
favors of God which formed an abundant compensation for every kind of 
evil? Besides, his complaint respecting the shortness of life seems 
unworthy of him; for why did he not deem a whole century and a third 
part of another sufficient for him? But if any one will rightly weigh 
his words, he rather expresses his own gratitude, in celebrating the 
goodness of God towards his fathers. For he does not so much deplore his 
own decrepitude, as he extols the vigor divinely afforded to his 
fathers. Certainly it was no new and unwonted thing to see a man, at his 
age, broken down and failing, and already near to the grave. Wherefore, 
this comparison (as I have said) was only intended to ascribe glory to 
God, whose blessing towards Abraham and Isaac had been greater than to 
himself. But he does not compare himself with his fathers in sufferings, 
as if they had been treated with greater indulgence; for we know that 
they had been tried to the utmost with all kinds of temptations: he 
merely states that he had not attained their age; as if he had said, "I, 
indeed, have arrived at those years which, by others, is deemed a mature 
old age, and which complete the proper term of life; but the Lord so 
prolonged the life of my fathers, that they far exceeded this limit." He 
makes mention of evil days, in order to show that he was not so much 
broken down and consumed by years, as by labors and troubles; as if he 
had said, "My senses might yet have flourished in their vigor, if my 
strength had not been exhausted by continual labors, by excessive cares, 
and by most grievous sufferings." We now see that nothing was less in 
the mind of the holy man than to expostulate with God. Yet it may seem 
absurd that he speaks of his life as being shorter than that of his 
fathers. For, whence does he conjecture that so little time should still 
remain for him, as to prevent him from attaining their age?  Should any 
one answer, that he formed this conjecture from the weakness of his 
body, which was half dead; the solution will not prove satisfactory. For 
Isaac had dimness of sight and trembling limbs thirty years before his 
death. But it is not absurd to suppose that Jacob was every moment 
giving himself over to death, as if the sepulchre were before his eyes. 
He was, however, uncertain what length of time was decreed for him in 
the secret counsel of God. Wherefore, being unconcerned about the 
remainder of his life, he speaks just as if he were about to die on the 
next day. 
  12. "And Joseph nourished his father, &c., according to their 
families." Some explain the expression, "the mouth of the little one," 
as if Joseph nourished his father and his whole family, in the manner in 
which food is conveyed to the mouths of children. These interpreters 
regard the form of speech as emphatical, because, during the famine, 
Jacob and his family had no more anxiety about the providing of food 
than children, who cannot even stretch out their hand to receive it. 
Others translate it "youth," but I know not with what meaning. Others 
take it, simply, according to the proportion and number of the little 
children. To me the genuine sense seems to be that he fed all, from the 
greatest to the least. Therefore, there was sufficient bread for the 
whole family of Jacob, because, by the care of Joseph, provision was 
made to supply nourishment even to the little ones. In this manner Moses 
commemorates both the clemency of God, and the piety of Joseph; for it 
was an instance of uncommon attention, that these hungry husband men, 
who had not a grain of corn, were entirely fed at his expense. 
  13. "And all the land of Canaan fainted." It was a memorable judgment 
of God, that the most fertile regions, which were accustomed to supply 
provisions for distant and transmarine nations, were reduced to such 
poverty that they were almost consumed. The word "lahah," which Moses 
uses, is explained in two ways. Some say that they were driven to 
madness on account of the famine; others, that they were so destitute of 
food that they fainted; but whichever method of interpretation be 
approved, we see that they who had been accustomed to supply others with 
food, were themselves famishing. Therefore it is not for those who 
cultivate fertile lands to trust in their abundance; rather let them 
acknowledge that a large supply of provision does not so much spring 
from the bowels of the earth, as it distills, or rather flows down from 
heaven, by the secret blessing of God. For there is no luxuriance so 
great, that it is not soon exchanged for barrenness, when God sprinkles 
it with salt instead of rain. Meanwhile, it is right to turn our eyes to 
that special kindness of God by which he nourishes his own people in the 
midst of famine, as it is said in the thirty seventh Psalm and the 
nineteenth verse. If, however, God is pleased to try us with famine, we 
must pray that he would prepare us to endure hunger with a meek and 
equal mind, lest we should rage, like fierce, and even ravenous wild 
beasts. And although it is possible that grievous commotions were raised 
during the protracted scarcity, (as it is said in the old proverb that 
the belly has no ears,) yet the more simple sense of the passage seems 
to me to be, that the Egyptians and Canaanites had sunk under the 
famine, and were lying prostrate, as if at the point of death. Moreover, 
Moses pursues the history of the famine, with the intention of showing 
that the prediction of Joseph was verified by the event; and that, by 
his skill and industry, the greatest dangers were so well and 
dexterously provided against, that Egypt ought justly to acknowledge him 
as the author of its deliverance. 
  14. "And Joseph gathered up all the money." Moses first declares that 
the Egyptian king had acted well and wisely, in committing the work of 
providing corn to the sole care and authority of Joseph. He then 
commends the sincere and faithful administration of Joseph himself. We 
know how few persons can touch the money of kings without defiling 
themselves by peculation. Amid such vast heaps of money, the opportunity 
of plundering was not less than the difficulty of self-restraint. But 
Moses says, that whatever money Joseph collected, he brought into the 
house of the king. It was a rare and unparalleled integrity, to keep the 
hands pure amidst such heaps of gold. And he would not have been able to 
conduct himself with such moderation, unless his divine calling had 
proved as a bridle to hold him in; for they who are restrained from 
thefts and rapaciousness by worldly motives alone, would immediately put 

(continued in part 24...)

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